Mentors: “Being” and “Doing”

Of late and as a result of recent posts, I have enjoyed the pleasure of many conversations on the topic of mentorship.  These conversations have left me believing that there are two kinds of mentors…“Doing” Mentors and “Being” Mentors.  Both are extremely valuable, each serving in a different capacity.  As I reflect on relationships with my mentors, I can confidently bin each into one of the two categories, though there are a couple who straddle the fence.  And truthfully, I would expect that most of us fortunate enough to have at least one mentor would put just about each of them in the “Doing” category.

“Doing” Mentors – Advisors who are there to respond to our questions, coach us through a given situation, and advocate on our behalf when appropriate.

Questions that we might ask a “Doing” Mentor include:

  • How should I handle my difficult boss/peer/junior?
  • What job should I take next?
  • Should I go back to school?

“Doing” Mentors are those we seek out to help us through a decision because we trust them, because they are empathetic, and because we know they care.  “Doing” Mentors may not be a prominent part of our daily life, but they make themselves available to respond to our needs and they are quick to return our call.

“Being” Mentors – Constant influencers in our life who focus on our becoming.

“Being” Mentors give us reason to critically think about situations before we are in a positon to respond to them; they reenforce values and behavioral attributes through proactive coaching and personal example; they adopt a personal philosophy grounded in “player development“; and they are quick to influence the why that informs our what.

I am fortunate to have many “Doing” Mentors and I am privileged to fill the role of “Doing” Mentor to many.  That said, I have relatively few “Being” Mentors, some of whom I have never met and will likely never meet.  Their personal example and influential writings continue to help me become the person to which I aspire often times without the benefit of direct interaction.  They may never be there to answer my question, but their teachings continue to prepare me to answer them myself.  “Doing” Mentors are extremely valuable and the “Being” Mentor is of at least equal worth.  The real power, as with many things, is at the intersection of the two.

Of your mentors, which are “Doing”?  Which are “Being”?  Do any straddle the fence?

Of your proteges, for whom are you serving in a “Doing” capacity?  Who may see you as a “Being” Mentor?

Regardless of your answers, the most important thing is that we care enough about our personal development to have mentors, and we care enough about those around us to make mentoring a priority.

Keep Being, Keep Doing, Keep raising our collective bar…

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